It’s too early, too chilly, and too foggy for words – but regardless, the second day of the ‘Doing Global Media Studies’ pre-conference to ECREA 2010 is about to begin. The keynote speaker this morning is Tristan Mattelart, whose focus is on audiovisual piracy - and he begins by noting the substantial attention already paid to this phenomenon, though mainly as a for of 'criminal' activity. He notes that there is a difference between Internet piracy and physical piracy (the sale of counterfeit DVDs and CDs), and that there are differences in such piracy between different countries.
We already know the legal economy of communication in southern and eastern countries pretty well – but that’s less true for the informal economy of communication, which is nonetheless an important aspect of these overall economies. This informal economy plays a central role in the circulation of media and cultural products, in fact – and what Tristan means by ‘southern and eastern countries’ are countries as far afield as Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and others.
Sadly, the existing literature on the subject of piracy in southern and eastern countries is voluminous, but very narrow in coverage. It is formed mainly of self-interested reports by copyright industries (MPAA, IFPI, BSA, IIPA), and contains alarmist analysis of the dangers which piracy poses to the movie, music, and software industries. What such reports contain are figures on the calculated ‘losses’ to the industry due to pirated content; many southern and eastern countries especially appear as zones of maximum instability for the industry.